Chapter 1: The Contingency Plan
Ex-Captain Sousuke Aizen sat, bound, blindfolded and gagged in his cell in the lowest level of the Central 46 prisons.
The darkness, he thought, the silence…the lack of ability to connect to anything with my senses...it would work together to drive me to despair, or to madness, even.
But that would only be appropriate for a man without hope. And Sousuke Aizen still clung to hope.
The reason was still clear in his mind.
"Orihime," he whispered into the girl's ear, "I am a careful man…and knowing that I have many enemies, even among my friends, I will entrust something to you."
He hung the tiny artifact on a silver chain around her neck.
"If anyone asks you," he whispered, watching her quiver as his breath touched her skin, "then you are to tell them that it was a gift from your brother before he died…and you recently found it after thinking it was lost."
He placed her under a deep hypnosis, then sent her back to her chambers, none the wiser for what she carried with her.
"And now…you will respond to my instructions. And the travesty that occurred will be undone…"
He smiled beneath the coverings on his face and waited calmly.
It will not be long…
Renji opened the door to the sixth division and walked inside, still limping slightly, but overall, still feeling pretty good, for his first day back after the end of the war. He was unsurprised that Byakuya was not at his desk. He was somewhat surprised that the noble had been discharged from the hospital, after the injuries he had suffered, first at Yammy's hands, and then amidst his and Captain Zaraki's private battle. But then, that was definitely Byakuya's way…never the easy way, for himself or for anyone else. In older days, Renji would have been miffed at that, but having served as Byakuya's vice captain for some time now, it had taken on a feeling of normality.
Renji spotted the slightly open door leading into Byakuya's quarters and felt a bit of relief that he was following Captain Unohana's recommendations to some extent by remaining in bed while he worked. He smiled to himself and passed by the door on the way to the squad kitchen, where he fixed a couple of cups of hot green tea and walked back to the noble's room.
"Hello, Captain," he greeted Byakuya, walking into the room and closing the door behind him.
"Renji," the noble acknowledged, not looking up.
Renji set the tea down on the nightstand and took his own cup of tea, then took the unspoken invitation of the stack of papers Byakuya had left for him on the other side of the bed. He slipped out of his shoes and sat cross-legged on the bed, picking up the first of the reports. He read quietly, watching Byakuya out of the corner of an eye as the noble read. He loved being this close to his captain, breathing in the scent of sakura, taking in the sight of the long black strands that spilled down onto his shoulders, the pretty gray eyes that mostly looked solemn or stern, but sometimes teased him by betraying calm curiosity, and the pale, slender hands that shifted the papers in front of him and added perfectly formed words to the pages. He had decided some time ago that the only thing that would make it better than it was, would be if Byakuya began to notice him in the same way.
He had started to indulge in quiet fantasies sometimes, where he would be watching Byakuya out of the corner of one eye like that…and he saw the noble studying him in the same way. He daydreamed that his captain's more frequent need to have Renji working alongside him at his desk meant that Byakuya had noticed him…noticed him and was sending sweet, quiet signals back in his direction.
He chuckled softly, remembering the day he had realized that Byakuya was watching him that way…had been for some time. And even desiring it as much as Renji had, he had somehow missed the tentative signs. He had been leaning back in his chair, giving Byakuya secret sidelong glances, and during one of those sweeping glances, their eyes connected and he instantly fell over backwards in his chair. He had explained it away, of course, but both of them knew. It became a sort of game between them ever since…one that seemed to grow in intensity as the winter war loomed ahead of them.
And then, Renji had left for Hueco Mundo…
And just having returned, they were alone together for the first time after. And Renji was wondering if the games were just going to continue, or if the open door he had found that day meant more than just a request for tea.
"I didn't know you found troop movement reports so amusing," Byakuya commented at the sound of his soft chuckle.
"Huh?" he mumbled, looking up, "Oh…sorry. I was just thinking about something Rukia said."
He finished the page he was reading and signed off on it, then reached for another…just as Byakuya's hand extended to add another report to the stack in front of him. Their hands only touched for a moment, but the impact felt like that of a double barrel kido blast to Renji. His heart throbbed painfully in his chest, and he felt an odd tickle in his stomach. He could feel that he had broken out in a sweat and he felt the soft swell of an oncoming erection. He knew he must be blushing and hoped he wasn't too obvious. He peeked at Byakuya out of the corner of his eye and froze.
The noble continued to read silently, but Renji could feel the gentle quiver in his reiatsu and could see that the hand that held the page he was reading was trembling softly.
I wonder why he doesn't do something…
We've been going on and on like this for a long time, but neither of us has taken the next step. I know my reasons…number one, he's noble and I'm not, number two, he's my captain, number three…
For some reason, the way Byakuya said his name made his heart start pounding and heat flash all over his face. He struggled to keep his voice steady as he answered.
Byakuya took a long, quiet inhale, like he did when he was about to say something he didn't want to have to say. And Renji wondered for a moment, if everything that he had thought was going on had just been in his head, and Byakuya had only now realized that his vice captain had fallen head over heels in love with him…and he had to break Renji's heart, but really didn't want to. He held his breath and made himself look Byakuya in the eyes. What he saw there stopped his heart in his chest.
"I made myself a promise as I watched you and Rukia leave for Hueco Mundo," he said quietly, "that once Aizen was defeated and we all came back safely, I would speak to you about something. It has actually been on my mind for some time, but I wasn't sure what the right course of action would be."
Renji swallowed hard, thinking fast, but unable to think of a thing to say.
"I take it by your silence that you know what I am talking about?"
"Oh…kami, Captain, I hope I do!" he said in a nervous laugh.
Then he froze up again at the realization that he had said those words out loud. He was too scared to look at Byakuya's face again. He blushed and looked down at his hands and was still looking there, when a soft, pale hand came to rest on his.
"It is strange, isn't it?" Byakuya went on, "With everyone else, you are so loud and excitable, but when it comes to the two of us…alone as we are now, you are…different. At first, I thought that it meant you weren't comfortable with me, but…perhaps I was mistaken about that?"
Renji managed a weak smile, but couldn't quite meet the dark, pretty eyes that had fixed on him.
"I am comfortable with you, Captain. It's just that…well, when I'm with those other friends, it's for having fun and burning off stress. When I'm with you, it's more like…like turning a corner and suddenly finding myself in a quiet, pretty garden. I just want to breathe in the smell of the flowers and I'm quiet so that I can hear the koi splashing in the ponds, you know?"
Byakuya's face broke into such a sweet, pleased expression that he couldn't avoid looking anymore. He was almost smiling and his eyes were widened and curious, almost childlike.
"What a lovely analogy," the noble said, his soft fingers lacing together with Renji's rougher ones, "Is that really how you feel when you are with me?"
"I am glad to hear that," Byakuya went on, "Or actually, I am relieved. I was uncertain what your silence meant. But there was something in the way you looked at me, Renji. So…I wanted to ask you before, but I couldn't seem to find the right way. And when I realized that it was inevitable that you were going after Orihime Inoue…and once you were gone, we would not be likely to see each other again this way until after the war, I promised myself that I would tell you what had been on my mind and inquire if perhaps you felt the same. I know you have quite a few friends, but I wasn't sure if you had made promises to any of them…"
"Are you asking if I'm 'seeing' anyone, Captain?" Renji asked, his smile widening, "Because, if you are, then the answer is no. My friends are all just…friends. I'm not seeing anyone romantically."
The noble bit his lip softly, gathering himself. Renji's heart skipped at the sight of the Byakuya Kuchiki, trying to summon the nerve to ask him out.
"And…do you…have a preference for male or female company?"
And finally, all of the nervous tension inside Renji dropped away. He sensed that the right moment had come and discarded his shyness.
"Captain?" he said, looking the noble in the eyes and tightening his fingers where they had become entangled them with Byakuya's, "I prefer…your company."
Byakuya let out a relieved breath, lowered his eyes, and the corners of his mouth turned upwards.
"You do?" Byakuya said very softly.
"Yeah," said Renji, bringing Byakuya's hand to his lips and kissing it lightly.
Byakuya froze and remained perfectly still as Renji leaned towards him and brought their lips together. There was a long, breathless moment at the end of that first kiss, where their eyes were locked and neither moved. Then, Renji released him and sat up, lifting the stack of papers off the bed and setting it on the nightstand. They paused as thunder boomed softly outside and they could hear the wind rushing through the trees and rain beginning to fall. A moment later, the lights in the room flickered and died.
They sat, gazing at each others' shadowed faces in the semidarkness and smiling.
"It seems that the forces that be are working in our favor, ne?" said Byakuya, gracing Renji with a genuine smile that melted the redhead's heart.
"Looks like," Renji answered, leaning forward to capture the noble's lips in a longer, deeper kiss, "I think we should take the hint. We've played around with the idea for long enough, right?"
"I think so," Byakuya agreed.
They fell silent, exchanging slow, deep kisses, as they loosened each others' clothes, so that more of their skin touched as they continued to kiss. Byakuya laid down against the pillows, gazing up at Renji as the redhead leaned over him and opened his yukata. He left the fine cloth spread out around the noble's body, then shrugged off his uniform and moved forward to lie down beside Byakuya. He felt a light tugging on his hair, and then his hair tie came out and the long, thick strands of red hair dropped down around his shoulders.
Byakuya's eyes took on that cute, curious look again, and his slender, graceful fingers began to trace Renji's tattoos. He continued to touch and explore them, as Renji's mouth left his, and the redhead moved on to taste the soft flesh of his captain's white throat. And there was, he found, something very erotic about kissing this part of Byakuya that was so often concealed. He could tell by the soft sounds Byakuya made, that the noble was sensitive there, so he rubbed his lips and then his hair over the area, and he felt the noble's body shiver softly. He kissed his way down the noble's collarbone, then let his head rest for a moment on Byakuya's chest, listening to the fast beat of his heart and letting his hand slide down over the man's soft abdomen. His fingers followed the line of fine black hairs down to a nest of black curls, and were nearly to the noble's swollen member, when Byakuya sat up suddenly, bringing Renji up with him. His hand reached for something in a drawer in the nightstand as he met Renji's eyes warily.
"I'm sorry if I startled you," Byakuya apologized, "but…it seems we were moving forward quickly, and…"
"Oh," said Renji, pulling away, and trying not to look disappointed, "I uh…I'm sorry, Captain. You just…smell really good, and your skin tastes wonderful…and I can't seem to stop touching you. I didn't mean to move too quickly. Sorry."
"No," said Byakuya, shaking his head, "It isn't that at all."
"Renji, I want very much to…to be with you…now. But…if we are going to do that, then we should be cautious. Because I am noble and a clan leader, even if I am with a male partner, one of us could become pregnant. But I have a charm that will prevent it."
He held up a small silver pendant and chain.
"I just need to know who should wear it," he said, peering through a pretty fall of tumbled, black hair, "Whoever…um…"
"Bottoms?" Renji said, laughing softly at the heavy flush the word brought to the noble's cheeks.
Byakuya caught his breath as Renji's hand wrapped around the wrist of the hand that held the charm. The dark gray eyes looked up into his with an almost frightened expression.
"I've waited over forty years to be with you like this…Byakuya Kuchiki," he said, tightening his hand, "And sometimes, I thought we would never be together this way. But now that we are…we are staying together. Now that you are mine, I am never letting you get away from me! So we don't need to worry about that, do we? Unless…unless you are just playing with me?"
Byakuya stared into the almost feral, red-brown eyes and slowly his trembling hand opened and let the charm fall away onto the floor.
"You're sure then?" Renji asked him.
Byakuya bit his lip and nodded, his eyelids teasing Renji with a soft flutter.
"When you left for Hueco Mundo, all I could think of is how stupid I felt because I had let my pride keep me from approaching you. And even though I told myself you would come back, I…I was worried that I wouldn't get the chance to say the words. I have loved you for a very long time, Renji. And I thought you might feel the same, but I was afraid to say anything, because if you didn't feel the same, then I knew you might leave the division, that it would make you too uncomfortable to work with me after such a confession. I am sorry. I should have been more trusting of what I felt."
"It's okay," Renji said, shaking his head, "We waited a long time, but we both came back alive, and we've said the words now. So, let's not worry about what happens next. As long as we're together, it will be good, right?"
"But…if we are going to throw caution to the wind, then who should be the one to risk…?"
Renji laughed heartily.
"I don't care! Top, bottom, you, me…I've got a great idea, Captain. Let's just get pregnant together!"
"Renji, that's scandalous! We're not even properly wed!"
The redhead laughed again and pinned the noble's body beneath his.
"So we'll get married tomorrow," he said grinning, "I love you, Captain."
Byakuya fought himself completely disarmed and smiling helplessly.
"I love you too, Renji," he managed, as Renji's mouth descended on his.
He moaned softly as Renji's fingers found his hardness.
"Mmmmm, Renji?" he sighed.
He flinched as a searching finger traced a sensitive area, then slowly invaded.
"Did you really mean it when you said we could be married tomorrow?" he asked softly.
Renji gave another soft laugh.
"Sure," he said, sucking the noble's tongue into his mouth and kissing him harder, "Today, tomorrow…whenever you want. Just as long as you know that you are never getting away from me."
"I don't want to get away from you, Renji," Byakuya said, panting softly as another rough, wet finger joined the first in preparing him, "We've wasted enough time…ah…hah, so…ah…tomorrow, I'll inform…the council."
"You do that," whispered Renji, hooking his fingers and coaxing a hard, gasping moan from between the noble's parted lips.
He bent and pleasured his captain's nether region as he added a third finger.
"Ah…!" Byakuya hissed, wincing.
"Sorry," Renji managed, the words muffled.
His fingers retreated slowly, then he nudged the noble's creamy thighs apart and sank down between them. He looked down at Byakuya's sweetly flushed face and smiled.
"Renji," Byakuya said breathlessly, "I hope you meant what you said before."
"Course I did."
"Because…clan leaders tend to be…exceptionally…fertile. We…often have multiple births. I cannot quite make myself believe you would want…"
"Bring 'em on," Renji laughed, "I grew up in Inuzuri in a group of kids all struggling together to stay alive. I think a big family would be great."
"Really?" Byakuya said, shivering as Renji began his entry.
He buried his face in the redhead's shoulder and throat, tightening his hold on Renji's shoulders.
"Relax," Renji said, teasing the noble's lips with his tongue, "I'll go slow, so it won't hurt too much."
"I'm fine," said Byakuya, sounding somewhat offended, "It can't be any more painful than taking a sword in the heart, ne?"
Renji giggled and shook his head, then began to push inside him in small, short thrusts. Byakuya's body relaxed beneath his and the noble's eyes widened and went hazy as he was taken. And if Renji had thought he was beautiful, fully dressed and decorated with the markers of rank and nobility, he was a thousand times more so, lying completely naked and undone, his pretty, white skin flushed, his fingers clenching Renji's shoulders and his hair tumbled in wild swirls around his head.
He had meant to give the both of them time to catch their breath once he was fully engaged, but the noble shifted restlessly beneath him, moaning and sighing at the feel of having Renji joined with him. Unable to hold themselves back after so many years of waiting, the two loosed their reiatsu, stirring the air around them as they thrust against each other, exchanging hard kisses and moaning heatedly into each other's mouths. Byakuya's fingernails ran slowly down the redhead's tattooed back and his hands curved around Renji's thrusting hips, and moving with them. Renji abandoned restraint and his movements became hard and fast, bringing him swiftly to breathlessness as Byakuya's moans rose into hungry, beautiful cries of pleasure. His thrusting member found the cluster of nerves inside the noble and sent him from extreme pleasure into absolute bliss. He held onto the redhead tightly, biting down on Renji's shoulder as he climaxed. Renji shuddered and moaned loudly, loosing his release, then collapsed onto him, and rested his tired head on the noble's sweat-slicked shoulder. They went quiet then, relaxing, catching their breath and listening to the rain falling outside.
"So…" Renji said, finally breaking the silence, "Was it worth waiting forty years for?"
Byakuya chuckled softly.
"I was a fool to wait so long to say something," he whispered, kissing the redhead's earlobe, "But yes…I would have to say that it was more than worth the wait…Renji."
They fell asleep with their bodies still joined. And neither moved again all night, not even as the wind began to howl strangely outside, and reality suddenly shifted and rearranged itself…
Orihime's eyes opened, an odd, golden shine filling them as the silver charm at her throat flared. She was surprised that the light and hissing wind that came with it did not wake the girl whose body laid curled around hers. She sat up slowly, extracting herself from Rukia Kuchiki's arms and climbing out of bed. She walked to the sliding glass door and opened it, then moved out onto the balcony. She stood in the pouring rain, looking up into the dark sky and suddenly remembering that moment…that time when Sousuke Aizen had called her to his room and slipped the charm around her throat, telling her that if things went wrong, she was to…
"No!" she cried, pawing at the charm, trying to tear the chain from her throat, "No…no…NO!"
She screamed for Rukia, but the hard peals of thunder drowned out her voice as the power of the charm wrapped around her and began to squeeze. And Aizen's power of hypnotism took hold of her and forced the pivotal words of release from her lips.
"I…" she said, tears and rain running down her face, "I…reject!"